Directed by Katt Shea. Starring Emily Bergl, Jason London, Dylan Bruno, Amy Irving, Rachel Blanchard.
Horror/Thriller, USA, 104 mins, cert 15.
Released in the UK on Blu-ray by 88 Films on 8th April 2019.
If ever there were a list titled 'Movies That Didn't Warrant a Sequel But Got One Anyway' then Brian De Palma's 1976 classic CARRIE - based on the novel by Stephen King - would surely be on there, and probably quite high up. However, despite being the subject of two remakes (or two more adaptations of the book, depending on your point of view) that are arguably quite pointless, there was a sequel to the original that sneaked out in 1999, not that many people noticed despite the film playing right into the hands of the post-SCREAM audiences, even down to the original poster that had all of the characters stood in line behind the titular Carrie... scrap that – behind Rachel Lang, the main character who isn’t Carrie as there is no Carrie in it, despite being called CARRIE 2.
And therein lies the biggest problem with THE RAGE: CARRIE 2 – it simply isn’t CARRIE or has anything to do with De Palma’s movie or King’s novel, except for the tenuous link of Sue Snell (a returning Amy Irving), the sole survivor from the original movie. Here, Snell is a teacher at the high school attended by Rachel Lang (Emily Bergl – HAPPY CAMPERS), a shy and awkward teenager – you can guess where this is going, right? - who displayed telekinetic powers when distressed as a child after her barking mad mother was locked up in an asylum. Rachel was sent to live with a foster family and grew up relatively normally but her dormant powers are starting to awaken and aren’t helped by the shenanigans of the high school football team who are sleeping their way through the girls in the school and scoring them points, and when the bitchy ‘in-crowd’ girls join in the hate there is all sorts of fun to be had as Rachel discovers who her real family were (take a guess) and unleashes hell on her classmates.
Clearly starting out as an original story with no connection to CARRIE, THE RAGE: CARRIE 2 was shaped and rewritten as a sequel once somebody realised that a story about a teenage girl with telekinetic powers wasn’t actually that original, and it shows as the script desperately wants to keep reminding you about what happened in that first movie but unfortunately all the flashbacks and exposition succeed in doing is making you wish you were watching Brian De Palma’s film. The main thread of the story is apparently based on a true event from the early 1990s where a group of high school jocks were involved in a sex scandal at their school, and the bulk of the film does follow that plot which, in a horror movie that is supposed to be a sequel to another (better) horror movie, plays out like a high school teen drama with very little in the way of scares.
This being the late ‘90s, when the scares are due to arrive they arrive in a wave of dyed black hair, a nu metal soundtrack and the sort of teenage angst normally found in TV soap operas and aren’t actually very scary at all, although the film does recreate the slaughter seen at the climax of the first film only this time it is at a party and Rachel is humiliated in a very different way but one that fits with the main plot. Thankfully, this is when the film kicks into gear and we actually get some decent gore and a bit of action but it is a case of too little, too late considering how long it took to get to there.
All of which may sound like THE RAGE: CARRIE 2 is a complete turkey to be avoided at all costs, which is a little harsh. Whilst it is largely pointless and reeks of cashing-in on the popularity of SCREAM, URBAN LEGEND and HALLOWEEN H20: 20 YEARS LATER (another sequel that followed the SCREAM model of marketing), on a technical level it is quite well shot and the Blu-ray image is pretty sharp, which help brings that final scene of carnage to life. The acting is also better than expected, and although Emily Bergl is a likeable presence and does well with what she has to work with she is no Sissy Spacek and Rachel is definitely not Carrie White, as the same fault that plagued the 2013 remake applies here and that is that the lead actress/character is just not convincing as a bullied, ugly duckling teenager.
However you want to put it, THE RAGE: CARRIE 2 just doesn’t hold any weight either as a sequel to CARRIE or as a horror movie in its own right. The filmmakers would probably have been best sticking to a script about the womanising football team and left any plots about telekinetic powers out of it because regardless of anyone’s intentions this film will always be held up to Brian De Palma’s original and, quite frankly, it doesn’t deserve to be. It is a bit better – or less infuriating – than the remakes of CARRIE but unless you are a completist and simply must own everything brandishing the CARRIE name then there is very little to recommend this above being a late ‘90s curiosity, and there are better examples of those about if you look hard enough.
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